The befuddlement of Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria is puzzled.  How can the GOP base support Donald Trump when all he is offering them is tax cuts and not pork-barrel welfare spending?

I've always rather liked this guy even as a leftist, but this time he's really got the blinders on.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, titled "Maybe Trump knows his base better than we do" (doh!), he lays out the big question befuddling the Washington swamp:

Congress's own think tanks – the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office – calculate that in 10 years, people making between $50,000 and $75,000 (around the median income in the United States) would effectively pay a whopping $4 billion more in taxes, while people making $1 million or more would pay $5.8 billion less under the Senate bill. And that doesn't take into account the massive cuts in services, health care and other benefits that would likely result. Martin Wolf, the sober and fact-based chief economics commentator for the Financial Times, concludes, "This is a determined effort to shift resources from the bottom, middle and even upper middle of the U.S. income distribution toward the very top, combined with big increases in economic insecurity for the great majority."

The puzzle, Wolf says, is why this is a politically successful strategy.

Two problems leap out with this "analysis."  The report is being produced by the Congressional Budget Office, the same bunch of charmers who brought us the Obamacare projections, missing miserably the trillion-dollar deficits brought on by the nightmarish insurance reform that most certainly did not make health care better for the majority of Americans.  The CBO's credibility, frankly, is shot.  The CBO in this case relies on static economic analysis, which fails to take into account the growth of the economy and the inevitable rise in tax revenues for the government that comes of it.

Yet Zakaria can't get his mind off the idea that maybe Republicans are fooling their supposedly benighted voters.  He asks:

Is it that the Republican Party is cleverly and successfully hoodwinking its supporters, promising them populism and enacting plutocratic capitalism instead?

He then goes into a meandering query about voters having no idea about their own interests.  What's galling about it is that he continually harps on "the rich" and the awfulness of giving them tax cuts, as if poor people never got jobs from the rich – and as if the rich haven't been harvested mercilessly, again and again, for the last nine years.  The top ten percent of taxpayers pay at least 90% of all tax revenues.  Give them a cut, and that money is going to make an impact somewhere else.

Where does Zakaria think poor people get jobs from – the other poor?  Tax cuts for the rich means investments in enterprises, both through the stock market and through seed capital for companies, as well as the creation and running of actual start-ups.  Zakaria seems to think the rich park their money in banks and go lie out on the beach in St. Bart's.  Yes, some do, but not the ones making the growing fortunes.  They are busy creating jobs.

What's more, how many poor aspire to be middle class, and middle class aspire to be upper middle class, and upper middle class aspire to be rich?  This is the upward mobility that is the substance of the American dream, and it's tax cuts, not welfare spending, that make it possible.  That's what happens when tax cuts are enacted: new businesses form, workers have their choice of jobs instead of just survival jobs and part-time jobs looped together for a total of one job without benefits and stagnant wages.

The big problem with Zakaria's piece is the strange assumption that poor people don't benefit from tax cuts for the rich and they can be made richer only if welfare benefits are dispensed from the government.  Only government can make you rich, not rich people offering jobs!  So the thinking goes.  And Zakaria assumes that if he thinks it, Americans out in Akron, Boise, Phoenix, and Pittsburgh must think it, too.  Well, they don't.

He opines that they must not know their interests or be obsessed with social issues instead (which is partially true for many).  But Trump is no idiot in putting his economic policy in the hands of Reaganites who remember the effects of tax cuts in the past.  American people remember those effects, too – and they want them back.  So much for the foolish assumption that all they want is welfare – an assumption that sank the presidential candidacy of  Mitt Romney when he uttered his 47% remarks in 2012.

It draws one's attention to Zakaria's opening paragraph, laying out the beginnings of his befuddlement:

Watching the Republican tax plan race through Congress, one is reminded of a big apparent difference between President Trump's program and other populist movements in the Western world. In the United States, Trump is leading something that is best described as plutocratic populism, a mixture of traditional populist causes with extreme libertarian ones.

Right, Fareed.  American populism is not anything like the garden-variety Hugo Chávez-style populism seen elsewhere.  The people who vote for that are convinced that welfare benefits and not opportunity are what will bring them out of poverty.  Maybe look into a little phrase much derided and diluted on the left.  It's called American exceptionalism.

Fareed Zakaria is puzzled.  How can the GOP base support Donald Trump when all he is offering them is tax cuts and not pork-barrel welfare spending?

I've always rather liked this guy even as a leftist, but this time he's really got the blinders on.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, titled "Maybe Trump knows his base better than we do" (doh!), he lays out the big question befuddling the Washington swamp:

Congress's own think tanks – the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office – calculate that in 10 years, people making between $50,000 and $75,000 (around the median income in the United States) would effectively pay a whopping $4 billion more in taxes, while people making $1 million or more would pay $5.8 billion less under the Senate bill. And that doesn't take into account the massive cuts in services, health care and other benefits that would likely result. Martin Wolf, the sober and fact-based chief economics commentator for the Financial Times, concludes, "This is a determined effort to shift resources from the bottom, middle and even upper middle of the U.S. income distribution toward the very top, combined with big increases in economic insecurity for the great majority."

The puzzle, Wolf says, is why this is a politically successful strategy.

Two problems leap out with this "analysis."  The report is being produced by the Congressional Budget Office, the same bunch of charmers who brought us the Obamacare projections, missing miserably the trillion-dollar deficits brought on by the nightmarish insurance reform that most certainly did not make health care better for the majority of Americans.  The CBO's credibility, frankly, is shot.  The CBO in this case relies on static economic analysis, which fails to take into account the growth of the economy and the inevitable rise in tax revenues for the government that comes of it.

Yet Zakaria can't get his mind off the idea that maybe Republicans are fooling their supposedly benighted voters.  He asks:

Is it that the Republican Party is cleverly and successfully hoodwinking its supporters, promising them populism and enacting plutocratic capitalism instead?

He then goes into a meandering query about voters having no idea about their own interests.  What's galling about it is that he continually harps on "the rich" and the awfulness of giving them tax cuts, as if poor people never got jobs from the rich – and as if the rich haven't been harvested mercilessly, again and again, for the last nine years.  The top ten percent of taxpayers pay at least 90% of all tax revenues.  Give them a cut, and that money is going to make an impact somewhere else.

Where does Zakaria think poor people get jobs from – the other poor?  Tax cuts for the rich means investments in enterprises, both through the stock market and through seed capital for companies, as well as the creation and running of actual start-ups.  Zakaria seems to think the rich park their money in banks and go lie out on the beach in St. Bart's.  Yes, some do, but not the ones making the growing fortunes.  They are busy creating jobs.

What's more, how many poor aspire to be middle class, and middle class aspire to be upper middle class, and upper middle class aspire to be rich?  This is the upward mobility that is the substance of the American dream, and it's tax cuts, not welfare spending, that make it possible.  That's what happens when tax cuts are enacted: new businesses form, workers have their choice of jobs instead of just survival jobs and part-time jobs looped together for a total of one job without benefits and stagnant wages.

The big problem with Zakaria's piece is the strange assumption that poor people don't benefit from tax cuts for the rich and they can be made richer only if welfare benefits are dispensed from the government.  Only government can make you rich, not rich people offering jobs!  So the thinking goes.  And Zakaria assumes that if he thinks it, Americans out in Akron, Boise, Phoenix, and Pittsburgh must think it, too.  Well, they don't.

He opines that they must not know their interests or be obsessed with social issues instead (which is partially true for many).  But Trump is no idiot in putting his economic policy in the hands of Reaganites who remember the effects of tax cuts in the past.  American people remember those effects, too – and they want them back.  So much for the foolish assumption that all they want is welfare – an assumption that sank the presidential candidacy of  Mitt Romney when he uttered his 47% remarks in 2012.

It draws one's attention to Zakaria's opening paragraph, laying out the beginnings of his befuddlement:

Watching the Republican tax plan race through Congress, one is reminded of a big apparent difference between President Trump's program and other populist movements in the Western world. In the United States, Trump is leading something that is best described as plutocratic populism, a mixture of traditional populist causes with extreme libertarian ones.

Right, Fareed.  American populism is not anything like the garden-variety Hugo Chávez-style populism seen elsewhere.  The people who vote for that are convinced that welfare benefits and not opportunity are what will bring them out of poverty.  Maybe look into a little phrase much derided and diluted on the left.  It's called American exceptionalism.

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